NRL Round 17 – Match 5 Results: St George Illawarra Dragons 8 v 12 Penrith Panthers

Round 17 concluded with the much awaited top two showdown, where the Panthers took advantage of a weakened Dragons’ outfit and scored a close 12 – 8 win over the competition leaders at WIN Jubilee Stadium.

Penrith pouncing on St George Illawarra has seen the two tied at the top of the table on an equal 26 competition points, with the Dragons narrowly holding onto their number one spot thanks to the points differential.

It was a disappointing result for the Dragons as their four game winning streak came to an end and the glorified return of Mark Gasnier failed to ignite any real fire, while Penrith now look very dangerous having won their last four in succession.

Monday night’s match was a gritty and closely matched affair as the two teams fought for momentum and control without a number of their Origin stars.

The Panthers were first to score when Wade Graham got over in the 21st minute, and with their in-form fullback Lachlan Coote converting the try, the visitors held a six point lead.

With no more points scored in the first half, Penrith gained some confidence heading into half time.

Back from the break it was more of the same frustration from both sides. In a slow second half the next points got onto the board when the Panthers were awarded a penalty in the 65th minute, Coote booting it through the posts to push them in front by eight ahead of a still scoreless St George Illawarra.

Then after there had been no tries scored for over 50 minutes, the final 10 minutes were a frantic scramble of four-pointers. First the Dragons’ winger Kalifa Fai Fai Loa opened their account in the 72nd minute. Loa would be the only player to score any points for the Dragons when he completed a match double.

After Loa’s try, the score was 8 – 4 still in favour of the Panthers. Then three minutes later David Simmons scored the match winning try for Penrith after latching onto a bomb.

In a final attempt at victory, Loa scored his second with a minute left, but they missed the conversion again and so finished up second best trailing 8 – 12.

The Panthers look well positioned to win again this week when they play the Warriors, but where will you go for your bets? If you bet at the TAB you are losing money, as online bookies like Ladbrokes.com.au have far better payouts!